It was impossible not to feel the shift in power during the Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night.
With the swearing in of board member Susan Lamontagne, a new voting bloc emerged with Stephanie Bitis, Diana Kolhoff, Ms. Lamontagne, and Thomas John Schiavoni joining forces to elect Ms. Kolhoff and Mr. Schiavoni as president and vice president, respectively.
What followed was a meeting filled with honest conversations, and disagreements, with Ms. Kolhoff easily taking the reins and navigating the way toward consensus when necessary. She appears more than up to the task of leading this board through what will undoubtedly be a challenging year — the International Baccalaureate program is expanding, parents and educators alike remain frustrated with the implementation of Common Core and testing standards placed on children, the district is in the midst of a capital building project that is providing its fair share of bumps in the road, and the board continues to wrestle with what it will do about replacing the athletic field at Pierson.
At the same time, thanks in large part to strides made by an administration led by Superintendent Katy Graves, it will also begin planning for the use of the former Stella Maris building, and welcoming a host of out-of-district students through tuition agreements reached with neighboring schools and parents seeking Sag Harbor’s excellent educational services.
Under the right leadership — and with a commitment to complete transparency with members of the school community — this board could have the kind of year that builds and sustains a great school district. The election of Ms. Kolhoff and Mr. Schiavoni is certainly a step in the right direction. The rest remains to be seen.